Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Cop Killer Or Hero?

I saw this image over at New America Media. The site looks at news through ethnic media. I like the site, but I have to disagree with some of Mr. Kevin Weston's commentary on Lovell Mixon, the man who killed four Oakland Police Officers this past weekend. Mixon was killed in the gun fight. In his article, "An Infamous Legend is Born and a Community is Under Siege" Weston describes the late 26-year-old as a rebel and compares his legacy to the likes of Nat Turner and Huey Newton. Black men who used violent methods to fight for the rights of African Americans and demand justice. Weston is making this argument in light of the anger going on in Oakland surrounding the New Years murder of an unarmed black man by BART police.
Lovell Mixon is not a legendary hero. He was a criminal. According to an interview with Mixon's family in the NY Times, he resorted to pimping to make money. They say he couldn't find a job because he was a felon. He served five years in prison for carjacking with a deadly weapon back in 2002. And, AND, his DNA was linked to the rape of a 12-year-old girl last month. Police say he may have committed five other rapes in the victim's neighborhood. I'm from Oakland. Ain't no carjacker, pimp or alleged child rapist is a hero of mine. I understand Kevin Winston's point that this act may have risen over the murder of Oscar Grant. He was the young brotha killed by a BART policeman. I'm angry just like others in the Bay. But for those who rejoiced over the cop killings, two wrongs don't make a right. There are good cops and there are bad cops. I don't know what kind of cops these four OPD officers were, but killing cops is not going to solve the problem. I agree with Weston that it's only going to create a nasty backlash. The last thing brothas need in Oakland are P'd off cops.

Tonight a vigil was held for Mixon. People were calling him a hero. I still don't understand. Yes, the man was troubled. He got caught up in the prison system and it didn't reform him. Instead it drove him crazy, like it has done so many other brothas that we lose to the streets. And the prison system needs reform because Mixon complained to family members that he could never get an appointment with his parole officer. But Mixon could have lived a different life. So why are people hailing him a hero when we have teachers, real activists, mentors, counselors, etc. who are doing positive things in the hood? But a felon, pimp, carjacker and alleged rapist is a hero? We don't even know why he killed the cops. Oscar Grant may not have been on Mixon's mind when he pulled the trigger.

I don't excuse what Lovell Mixon did. But something went wrong in his life. Was he not loved enough? Did somebody hurt him as a child? His family members said he seemed depressed during his final days. Did he have a mental illness all along and no one thought to get him psychological help? I say this because what we do and how we raise our families affects others. I don't know what happened in Lovell's life to gear him down a violent path. But it cost four other people their lives. And that's not right.


  1. Ms. Cocoa fly, I know you remember Mark Essex and what he did in New Orleans (similar to what Mixon did...some 35 years later). The similarities are striking.

    If you can, listen to Gil Scott Heron's seminal 1981 album, Reflections, and closely listen to his version of Inner City Blues, and you will immediately know what I'm talking about.

    There's (STILL) no slack
    for the black...

    Louiecoolgato, Washington DC

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for the info Louiecoolgato. I love the name. Mark Essex was a Black Panther in New Orleans who went on a shooting spree killing civilians and cops.
    Readers can learn more here:

    And lyrics from Gil Scott Heron's Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)are 28 years old but sounds like what's going on today.


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